Aussie PM Rejects Beijing’s Wine Tariff

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that it’s “not okay” that Beijing is putting up the price of Australian wine in “retaliation” for Australians “standing up for our values.”

The move is the latest example of what U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken this week labelled Beijing’s “blatant economic coercion” of Australia.

Morrison told reporters on Saturday that Australia “completely reject(s)” what he called “non-tariff restrictions.”

He said Beijing has placed them on Australian products, “by their own admission, publicly, as some form of retaliation for Australians standing up for our values.”

“That’s not okay,” he said.

This comes after China’s Ministry of Commerce announced that new measures would kick in from Sunday and be in effect for five years, in a statement released on Friday.

Some importers will need to pay tax to China’s customs authority, in a move that Beijing claims is an anti-dumping measure.

The news led Morrison to express solidarity with the United Kingdom, which he said had also come under sanctions by Beijing for their position in condemning the treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang.

“I stand with Prime Minister Johnson…Boris, well done mate, we stand with you and thanks for standing with Australia as well,” he said.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan earlier called the decision “extremely disappointing and completely unjustifiable,” pledging to do everything he could to reverse it.

Tariffs of between 116 and 218 percent mean it will be “basically impossible” for Australian wine to compete in the Chinese market, Tehan said.

Tehan said such decisions “make it hard” to continue to work with the Chinese regime to develop the economic relationship between the two countries.

He said he’d spoken with the Australian wine industry and was looking at taking the issue to the World Trade Organisation.

The industry and government would work closely together to explore other markets, he said.

“Chinese consumers have shown quite clearly a great liking for Australian wine, and we’re very confident that consumers right around the world will also want to appreciate the great product that Australian winemakers and Australian grape growers produce,” he said.

Beijing has launched trade strikes against a range of Australian products including coal, barley, beef, lobster, and timber.

These began last year when Foreign Minister Marise Payne publicly called for an inquiry into the origins of COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.

Speaking at NATO headquarters in Belgium on March 24, Blinken said there was “no question” that Beijing’s “coercive behaviour” threatens the collective security and prosperity of democratically aligned countries.

“[Beijing] is actively working to undercut the rules of the international system and the values we and our allies share,” he said, while outlining three major threats that the world is facing.

He offered the example of “China’s blatant economic coercion of Australia” as an aggressive nonmilitary action that he says threatens “not only our individual countries but also our shared values.”

AAP contributed to this report.

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